As your puppies’ weaning process is around the corner, you may be looking for homemade puppy mush or puppy gruel recipes. Weaning is the time when puppies will be introduced for the first time to food other than milk, and it's important that this process is done gradually. Generally, puppies can start being weaned at around 3 and a half to 4 weeks, and the puppies should be fully weaned by 7 to 8 weeks when they are generally ready to go to their new homes. Just so you are prepared: expect puppy weaning to be quite a messy project!
A Word About Bowls
Depending on the size of your puppies, you may start serving their food using a regular food bowl, but if your puppies are quite on the small side, you may prefer starting with a shallow and wide pan.
An aluminum pie pan may serve the purpose well. As mentioned, be ready for this to be quite a messy ordeal, so have your paper towels handy to clean up any messes.
As puppies dunk their faces and paws in their food the first times, you must be ready to clean them up but ensure they stay nice and dry to prevent them from getting dangerously chilled.
Homemade Puppy Gruel Recipe
Puppies may be quite interested in the smell of dry puppy dog food (usually the same brand of food the mother is on), but its texture can deter them from trying it. After all, who can blame them: all they have consumed so far has been liquid, warm milk from their mothers!
Here's why you need to find to a compromise so that the puppies are enticed to eat but without having to worry about something that's hard and different. To help the pups transition to dry puppy food, you must therefore start with a diet that is very liquid, the consistency of gruel. Here's how to make it in two ways.
Option 1 entails simply making a layer of 2 cups dry puppy food on the bottom of the dog food bowl or aluminum pie pan. On top of this layer, you would then pour about 12.5 ounces of puppy milk replacer and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Wait for the kibble to swell up and add warm water until it feels soft and squishy and then smash it with a potato masher.
Option 2 entails grinding the dry puppy food with enough warm water/warm milk replacer until you obtain the consistency of gruel that is very wet. Then, let it cool down and offer it to the pups in the bowl or pie pan. Here are the exact instructions from veterinarian Dr. Race Foster.
"Prepare the puppy mush by placing 2 cups of high quality dry puppy food in a blender with 12.5 oz liquid puppy milk replacer and fill the rest of the blender with hot water. This should be blenderized until the consistency of human infant cereal. (This feeds 6-8 puppies of a medium-sized breed.) The puppies should receive 3-4 meals a day of this to start." Dr. Race Foster
Moving on to Mush
As the pups get used to eating the gruel, it's time to move on to making mush. Mush is just a thicker version of the gruel and can be easily obtained by increasing the amount of dry puppy food while decreasing the amount of milk replacer and water added.
The goal is to obtain food that is thicker and thicker so that by the time the pups are 7 weeks old they are eating exclusively dry food. During this time, it's important to provide puppies with access to water as they will be more thirsty since they are nursing less and less and there's less water content in the mush.
As the puppies nurse less and less, mother dog will also start decreasing her milk production. The process of drying up mother dog can be further expedited by gradually weaning mother dog back to an adult food versus the puppy food.
As always, this must be done gradually starting with replacing 1/4 of her puppy food with adult food and then over the course of the next days, increasing the adult food and decreasing the puppy food until she's eating exclusively adult food by the time the pups are 8 weeks, reaching a dosage of almost the normal maintenance levels fed to a non-nursing dog.
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- Flickr Creative Commons, Bev Sykes Something new CCBY2,0